2011 ADFA Appointment Ceremony Victoria Barracks


Friday 21 January 2011

Good afternoon,

Major General David Morrison,

Air Vice Marshal Skidmore,

distinguished guests,

ladies and gentlemen.


I want to tell you something today that I suspect you already know.

The noblest thing that we can do is serve our country.

Whether that’s fighting fires or fighting floods, teaching the young or caring for the old, fighting for the rights of others or defending them – like you will.

There are a lot of very smart people here.

Many of you could have easily joined the private sector and made a lot of money.

It says a lot to your character and who you are that you have chosen this path – that you have chosen to serve others.

The fact that you have made it this far also tells me you are leaders.

In this room today, we may have the future Chief of Army or the future Chief of the Air Force.

We may even have the future Chief of the Defence Force.

God forbid, we have any future members of parliament.

There are one or two members of parliament who went to ADFA.

You will be leaders in one of the most important organisations in Australia.

The things you learn at ADFA will give you some of the skills you need to lead.

But the essence of what makes a good leader is already inside you.

In my mind there are four things that make a good leader.

Good leaders care about others.

They don’t just think about themselves.

One day you may be in command of a platoon or a squadron.

The decisions you make will affect the lives of others – they may be the difference between life and death.

A good leader knows this – wants this responsibility – thinks about the men and women they lead when they make decisions.

Good leaders work hard.

Good things don’t just happen – you have to work for it. Nothing about being a member of the ADF is easy.

And the decisions you will have to make will be hard.

They will require everything you have got.

Good leaders are courageous I’m not just talking about physical courage,

I’m talking about the courage to stand up for the things you believe in. It’s not easy.

Nelson Mandela stood up for what he believed in. It meant spent 27 years in a gaol cell – but his courage destroyed apartheid.

It tore down walls of oppression and changed a country forever.

And good leaders have big dreams – and know where they are going.

They are not content to sit on the sideline.

They have ideas and they want to make things better. John F. Kennedy had a younger brother called Robert.

Robert’s a hero of mine.

He used to say: “Some men see things as they are and ask why, I dream of things that never were and say why not.” That’s the kind of leader that I hope you will be. That you care for others, that you work hard, that you are courageous, that you dream big dreams.

To the families and friends gathered here today, thank you for encouraging your son or daughter to become a member of the Australian Defence Force. You have raised very special young men and women.

Their service will make not only you proud, but all Australians proud.

And to you the ADF’s newest junior officer cadets – that’s your new responsibility, make us all as proud of you as your friends and family are today.

Good luck.